Match ends, Arsenal Ladies 1, Chelsea Ladies 0.
Danielle Carter's goal delivered a record 14th Women's FA Cup trophy for Arsenal as they dominated holders Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.
Carter, who clipped a first-minute chance onto the roof of the net, gave the Gunners a deserved early lead with a fine solo run and curled finish.
Asisat Oshoala then spurned three good chances to double Arsenal's lead.
Fran Kirby wasted Chelsea's best opening in front of a record Women's FA Cup final crowd of 32,912.
The England striker lacked direction with her first-half strike after running through, allowing goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal to save at the near post.
Ji So-Yun also went close after the break, shooting wide following their first corner after 70 minutes but the Gunners were excellent value for the victory.
Arsenal's greater mobility, movement in midfield and high-pressing was key to their fast start.
Jordan Nobbs, Fara Williams and Carter were key in denying space and stopping the supply line to Chelsea's front four.
Holding duo Katie Chapman and Drew Spence were constantly harassed and crowded out, meaning last year's Wembley matchwinner Ji was starved of possession.
The high-tempo approach set the tone for Arsenal's impressive display and the margin of victory - against a Blues side who had won all seven of their matches so far this season - should have been greater.
Carter's sensational first-half strike was a fitting way to win an intriguing final in front of a record crowd.
Some nimble footwork saw her cut inside Hannah Blundell and send a glorious strike curling into the far post.
But the Gunners wasted numerous chances to avoid a nervy finale.
The most notable opportunities fell to the otherwise excellent Oshoala, who wasted two good chances when through on goal, and Josephine Henning, who headed wide from a corner after the interval.
Ultimately Carter's eye-catching goal was enough but Kelly Smith's contribution was just as vital.
The England legend's inclusion raised a few eyebrows but her composure and quality shone through.
The 37-year-old was increasingly influential, finding and creating space in the centre of the pitch and picking out willing runners time and time again.
At the other end Chelsea's key player Ji, and her fellow attackers Kirby, Karen Carney and Gemma Davison were peripheral figures.
Kirby should have scored when Chelsea had their best spell just after going behind, and Davison made several dangerous runs, but the end product was lacking and Arsenal were not to be denied.
Arsenal and England defender Casey Stoney: "It's probably the greatest moment in my career.
"I'm so proud of my team today, we stepped up and we won it.
"We got our tactics spot-on and we deserved to win it today."
Arsenal club captain Kelly Smith: "The team were outstanding today, from the first minute to the last minute we really turned up.
"We wanted the cup back and we're really pleased with how the performance went.
"This is the cup that we all want to be involved in and an occasion like this is an unreal experience and one I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
- 13van Veenendaal
- 4WilliamsSubstituted forJanssenat 75'minutes
- 6Losada Gomez
- 24OshoalaBooked at 82minsSubstituted forWilliamsonat 89'minutes
- 10SmithSubstituted forvan de Donkat 74'minutes
- 7Pablos Sanchon
- 21van de Donk
- 4BrightSubstituted forEnglandat 78'minutesBooked at 84mins
- 24SpenceSubstituted forFaheyat 45'minutes
- 8CarneySubstituted forAlukoat 55'minutes
- Sarah Garratt
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Arsenal Ladies 1, Chelsea Ladies 0.
Corner, Chelsea Ladies. Conceded by Daniëlle van de Donk.
Attempt missed. Francesca Kirby (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.
Attempt blocked. Gemma Davison (Chelsea Ladies) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bethany England.
Substitution, Arsenal Ladies. Leah Williamson replaces Asisat Oshoala.
Bethany England (Chelsea Ladies) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Daniëlle van de Donk (Arsenal Ladies) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Bethany England (Chelsea Ladies).
Alex Scott (Arsenal Ladies) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Bethany England (Chelsea Ladies).
Asisat Oshoala (Arsenal Ladies) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Asisat Oshoala (Arsenal Ladies).
Ana Borges (Chelsea Ladies) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Asisat Oshoala (Arsenal Ladies) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Attempt blocked. Danielle Carter (Arsenal Ladies) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordan Nobbs.
Attempt blocked. Bethany England (Chelsea Ladies) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Ji So-Yun (Chelsea Ladies) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Chelsea Ladies. Bethany England replaces Millie Bright.
Substitution, Arsenal Ladies. Dominique Janssen replaces Fara Williams.